Baku, November 9, AZERTAC
A general meeting marking the 70th jubilee of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS) has been held.
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the meeting.
The head of state addressed the event.
Speech by President Ilham Aliyev:
- Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, dear friends!
First of all, I want to cordially congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on the Day of the State Flag. On this very dear day for us, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. I heartily congratulate all Azerbaijani scientists on this occasion as well and wish them continued success and achievements.
Over these 70 years, the Academy has covered a long and successful road. The Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences has made a valuable contribution to the strengthening of the country’s intellectual potential. It has made a valuable contribution to the training of qualified professionals. The Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences continues to play an active role in the overall development of our country. Scientists conduct research and accelerate the future development dynamics of our country.
I want Azerbaijani scientists to play a more active role in the comprehensive development of our country in the future because the future of our country is directly linked to the level of scientific potential. In any country, including Azerbaijan, development is associated with the level of science. We live in the age of technology. Countries possessing such technology may, of course, protect their interests on a global scale more effectively.
Azerbaijan should be among these countries too. Today we try to import and apply the latest technology to various areas of our lives, so that our scientists could work on the basis of these technologies in the future.
As you know, the attitude towards the Academy was not very positive in the early years of independence. Scientists will remember too well that in 1992 the then government even put forward a proposal to close the Academy. The then leaders believed that Azerbaijan did not need a National Academy of Sciences.
It was a very wrong approach. Fortunately, after the return of great leader Heydar Aliyev to power at the people’s request in 1993, this talk, of course, came to an end. The great leader’s first public meeting was held with scientists at the National Academy of Sciences. From that time to the present, great attention has been paid to the development of Azerbaijani science. This area is still a priority.
Of course, our financial situation in the first years of independence was not as it is now. Azerbaijan was going through a very difficult period. The political and military crisis, the civil war, the occupation of our lands and the economic downturn, of course, prevented the allocation of appropriate funds to the Academy. But even then these issues were addressed to the maximum possible extent.
Of course, Azerbaijan has now put forward its own model of economic development on a global scale and earned great respect due to the pace of economic development. This is why we can and we do allocate even more to the Academy. I should also note that the suggestions of scientists and academic community are taken into account. I remember speaking in this building and in this hall four years ago and expressing my thoughts. Scientists also made suggestions. We can say that all those suggestions have either been executed or are being executed.
In recent years, we have improved the material and technical infrastructure of the Academy. The beautiful building has been refurbished. Funds have been allocated for the refurbishment of institutes of the Academy. A scientific library complex has been created. The Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory has been renovated. A beautiful building has been constructed for the National Encyclopedia. All of this reflects the policy of the Azerbaijani state. We want very much to create even better conditions for the development of science. At the same time, five or six years ago we adopted and are now implementing the national strategy and the state program on the development of science. I believe that the establishment of the Science Development Fund is also an important step in this direction, because the fund provides grants to young researchers. Overall, this certainly has a positive impact on the development of science.
Speaking to scientists today, I want to share some thoughts on the future development of our country and the role of scientists in this development.
Today the world is experiencing a new period. Every citizen can see on television and the media that developments in the region and the world, unfortunately, are not unfolding in a positive direction. New threats, dangers, risks of confrontation and war are springing up. Unfortunately, there is no reason for optimism in forecasting the future. Under such circumstances, all countries, of course, should rely primarily on their domestic resources, ensure their security in the conditions of a global financial and economic crisis to an even greater extent and make certain adjustments to their economic model.
Azerbaijan has conducted an independent policy and independent activities in the political and economic spheres and in the field of international relations for many years. Our work is based on the national interests of our people. This is the main condition for us, the main task, and all our efforts serve this purpose.
Of course, while watching the processes taking place in the world and the region, we should also try to minimize the risks for our country as much as we can, and we are achieving this. Today, Azerbaijan is an island of stability, a space of peace and tranquility in our blazing region. The people of Azerbaijan live and work in peace. I am confident that as a result of the current and future measures, this positive dynamic and positive atmosphere in Azerbaijan will be further strengthened.
At the same time, the global economic recession is ongoing and there is no end in sight. This being the case, we have to conduct even more serious reforms in the economic sphere.
In general, our policy in recent years was to minimize the dependence on oil and gas, diversify the economy, resolve the issue of job creation and open new industrial enterprises. The adoption of the first regional development program in 2004 pursued this goal. I am glad that these programs are being consistently implemented and the appearance of the regions has changed. New enterprises, social facilities and infrastructure projects have strengthened our country and significantly reduced our dependence on the oil and gas factor. If we look at the structure of our gross domestic product, we can see that the oil and gas sector accounts for about 30 per cent of it. In the future, this figure should be even lower.
However, along with this, we think of a new economic model today. The government and state bodies have received appropriate instructions, and I would like our scientists to get heavily involved in this as well.
I am sure that our economic development will be continued, as it rests on the work already done, infrastructure projects and an excellent investment environment. At the same time, influential economic organizations of the world appreciate our efforts. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund believe that Azerbaijan will be the best country in the region, in Eastern Europe, for the rate of economic development in the coming years. It is no coincidence that the Davos World Economic Forum has awarded Azerbaijan 40th place globally in terms of economic competitiveness. This is a very high figure. To be ranked 40th among 200 countries and leave many developed countries behind is a great achievement. We did not achieve this at the expense of oil and gas. This was made possible thanks to a thought-out policy and economic reforms. We should try to maintain this growth in the coming years, thus making our economic development long-term and sustainable.
Our economic success and economic independence form the backbone of national independence. If we were in a state of dependence on other countries, we could not pursue an independent policy. This is our strength. This is why we are trying to maximize the use of our domestic resources and not depend on anyone. If we depend on others, we will have to carry out their orders or suffer. We do not want to depend on anyone. We want to go our own way, give our people a better life and make our state even stronger. I want to reiterate that economic independence forms the foundation of national independence. Therefore, I believe that scientists should and will make valuable suggestions in relation to this new situation.
I want to touch upon another issue. There is a positive demographic situation in Azerbaijan. This is due to the development of the country in recent years, because if we look at the demographic statistics, we can see that in the most difficult years for our country the demographic situation was very negative. But with the development of the economy and complete establishment of stability, the demographic situation has improved. Today, the population of Azerbaijan is growing rapidly – in a few years it will reach 10 million people. Of course, it is a great asset for us. The bigger the population, the stronger our country will get. But at the same time, this situation dictates the need to address many issues. A growing population means an increasing number of jobs. Over the past 10 years, we have created more than a million permanent jobs. This process must be continued. Creation of jobs requires both public and foreign investment. Our revenues are declining now. This is natural – the price of oil has dropped from $100 to 50 and below. We have made some cuts in the state budget for next year and postponed some investment projects. Therefore, the creation of jobs in the future should be linked to improving the investment climate. We should try to attract more foreign investment to Azerbaijan. In general, I believe that our scientists have to work even harder due to the demographic situation. The social burden will be increased, so it is necessary to build new kindergartens and schools, create new industries, and construct buildings and houses, including individual ones. This requires land. Where do we find them? New challenges associated with urban development are emerging. A great burden will fall on the transport sector. This is a reality. If we don’t think about that, the day will come when all this will lead to major problems. This is why we need to proceed from demographic development and determine a new strategy on all directions in accordance with that.
Until now and even today, our main tasks have been associated with infrastructure projects. We are implementing them both in Baku and the regions. Of course, electricity, gas, drinking water, land reclamation, rural roads, highways, repairs - all this will be continued. But at the same time, we definitely need a new approach.
In recent years, we have taken serious steps related to industrial development. As a result, in first nine months of this year our non-oil industry grew by more than 10 per cent. In the current circumstances it is a historic achievement. The current and future industrial projects in Azerbaijan will enhance our non-oil capacity and significantly increase the export potential. Technology parks are being set up. We have already laid the foundation for a chemical industry park. Early enterprises have already been created there. Azerbaijani scientists should take an active part in all this. Of course, construction and engineering work in all these areas are carried out by foreign contractors, but relevant government agencies have been instructed to engage Azerbaijani scientists in this work as well. I am urging scientists to be proactive in this matter.
Azerbaijan has done a lot of work related to food security. We can say that we provide ourselves with basic food products by 100 or 90 per cent. This process will be continued. In recent years, about 20 large farms have been created in the area of grain production. The yield in these farms is 55-60 quintals per hectare, which is twice as much as the total yield. Why? Because they are using a scientific approach and modern technologies! Scientists have put in a lot of work to achieve these results. If we consider that about 50 per cent of our population lives in rural areas, the development of agriculture will always be on the agenda as an economic and a social issue in the future.
It is no coincidence that the current year has been declared a "Year of Agriculture" in Azerbaijan. In the first nine months of this year, growth in agriculture was almost 7 per cent. It is also a very good indicator. At present, the Azerbaijani state invests a lot in irrigation and land reclamation work. Two major water reservoirs have been built – Takhtakorpu and Shamkirchay. This is a historic achievement. The area of irrigated land has significantly increased now, and it will continue to increase. The area of newly-irrigated lands and the lands with improved irrigation will constitute hundreds of thousands of hectares. We clearly need a scientific approach here. We can’t have chaos. Work should be carried out systematically, so that we could know exactly where to grow what and what the state needs to do to cultivate these products. Scientists have the key say here. Relevant bodies such as the Ministry of Economy and Industry and the Ministry of Agriculture have been tasked with building their future work on a scientific basis. I urge Azerbaijani scientists and the National Academy of Sciences to contribute to this process.
We can significantly enhance our export potential. In other words, we can access world markets with an even greater volume of agricultural products, thereby greatly improving the living standards of farmers. Our further development will be defined by industry and agriculture. Therefore, public policy is unequivocal. State bodies have received relevant instructions. I urge scientists to seriously address this issue.
One of the most significant events that took place in Azerbaijan since my last appearance here has been the creation of a space industry. The first telecommunications satellite was put into orbit. Afterwards, a satellite for monitoring the earth's surface was launched. We are currently engaged in launching a third satellite. Indeed, we have created a new industrial area, a new branch of science. Of course, it is first necessary to deepen international cooperation in this area because it is new for us. We need to conduct various events with foreign partners – seminars, conferences, scientific and practical activities. We should be more active in training our personnel, because a new space industry has already been created. Azerbaijan has become a member of a limited club of space-faring nations. This reflects our policy. This is how we look to the future: modernity, dynamic development and the use of technology. Without this we can’t develop the way we want. We want to enter the ranks of developed countries, and we have the opportunities for that. Our human resources are strong. Education is at the proper level. Literacy is almost 100 per cent. This forms the basis for the development of science. Science is surrounded with care and attention. All these factors are there. The main thing is to plan our strategy and take the right steps, so that Azerbaijan is among the first in this field.
We have created a military industry in Azerbaijan. The Ministry of Defense Industry has been in place for 10 years. If this decision had not been made at the time, we would be unable to benefit from the development of the industry today. Currently, we manufacture military products of more than a thousand denominations.
Azerbaijan provides for most of the army needs itself. This is a historic achievement, especially if we consider that we are in a state of war. In some cases, we can’t buy the necessary equipment and weaponry. In some cases, there is an embargo. There is no justification for that, but it is a different issue. We knew that. Today, provision of the Azerbaijani army is possible thanks to domestic production. I know that scientists are involved in this, but they should participate more actively. Of course, we acquire advanced technology. When we purchase them, we are introduced to this technology. In the future we will be able to produce all kinds of weapons we need. We can use these samples at least. Therefore, there is a wide field of activity for Azerbaijani scientists. The Azerbaijani state, for its part, will try to attract more scientists to this work.
Of course, I want to say a few words about the traditional oil and gas sector of our economic development. Scientists are well aware that all oil and gas fields in the Caspian Sea were discovered by Azerbaijani scientists. Without the Azerbaijani academic school, these fields would not have been discovered or would have been discovered much later. Today, Azerbaijani scientists play an important part in the successful implementation of oil and gas operations in the country, are involved in the cooperation with foreign partners and projects of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan. Of course, this area is also strategic for us. Our oil and gas reserves are fairly large. We have enough gas reserves to last us and to export to partner countries for at least for 100 years. Of course, our scientists also need to study the existing and emerging technologies in this field, because this area has seen tremendous development in recent years. Today, we not only easily drill wells to depths that were previously inaccessible to us, but also establish rigs even in Baku capable of drilling at great depths. Therefore, this sphere is strategic for us and for our partners.
Today Azerbaijan is known worldwide as a reliable partner, plays a crucial role in the oil and gas sector and the energy security of some countries. After a few years, the number of our partners will increase even more, because after the realization of the Southern Gas Corridor 10 and even more countries will be able to receive Azerbaijani gas in the future. Azerbaijan has taken the lead in this area. Azerbaijan is not only the initiator but also the leading force of the Southern Gas Corridor, of the TANAP project. We also spend our financial resources on this sphere.
Of course, scientists have a lot of goals. If I talk about each of them here, it will probably take a long time. I think enough has been said. So my main desire is for Azerbaijani science to develop in the first place and, on the other hand, to contribute to the overall development of the country. I want research not to be conducted just for the sake of research, but be aimed at strengthening the capacity of the country's economic security.
In conclusion, I want to say a few words about humanities. This area is always in the spotlight. The activities held in Azerbaijan in recent years, including the Baku Humanitarian Forum and the Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, showcase Azerbaijan in the world as a center of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan is a state policy and, at the same time, a public order. For us it is a normal way of life although we see a different picture in some countries now. Some political leaders even use extremely dangerous expressions, claiming that multiculturalism has failed and has no future. This is an erroneous and dangerous view because there is no alternative to multiculturalism. What is the alternative - xenophobia, discrimination, racism? Unfortunately, we see all that on TV every day. Azerbaijan demonstrates a model in this area. I believe that Azerbaijani scientists can be even more active in this. Using scientific researches on history, traditions, the present realities of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan and government policies, we could create even more fundamental works both in Azerbaijani and foreign languages. I believe that research in this area would be very interesting and useful for us.
For centuries, the people of Azerbaijan survived as a nation thanks to our culture, art, music, carpet-weaving and other traditions. The Azerbaijani language is at the heart of all our work in this area. The Azerbaijani language has saved us as a people and nation. We lived within other countries and empires for centuries. At a time when we were not independent, we managed to preserve our national values and native language. We managed to preserve the purity of the Azerbaijani language. Therefore, when I see some outside intervention in our language, which sometimes receives support in Azerbaijan, this worries me. The Azerbaijani language is so rich that it does not need any foreign words. I want to say again that we have protected our language for centuries. We must do that even today. We need to ensure the purity of the Azerbaijani language. Of course, the more foreign languages our citizens speak, especially the younger generation, the better. But they should first of all speak their native language. On the other hand, we should not allow entry of foreign words into our native language. That is unnecessary. But we are seeing that. I hear foreign expressions being used by some public figures, members of the government, television channels and in parliament. This is unnecessary. Of course, I am no expert in this area, but as a citizen I believe that there is no need for inventing new words. Our language is so rich that if we keep it and pass it on to future generations, it will be our greatest achievement in this area.
In conclusion, I want to say a few words about historical sciences. Azerbaijan has a rich history. This is well known both to Azerbaijani scientists and the Azerbaijani public. We need to show our history and these realities on a global scale. Why? In the first place, for the world to know us better and see that we have a rich history! On the other hand, provocations are committed against us. The Armenians are trying to distort the history of Azerbaijan using the Diaspora. In some cases, they are succeeding in that. The so-called "Armenian scientists" use lies and fantasies to publish books, make presentations relating to the history of the region, the South Caucasus. Of course, our history is our greatest asset. Our history shows that Azerbaijanis have lived on this land for centuries. The present-day Armenia was created on historical Azerbaijani lands. One only needs to look at the maps published by tsarist Russia in the early 20th century to see that the absolute majority of the names of villages and towns located on the territory of the present-day Armenia have Azerbaijani origin. This is a reality. Azerbaijanis accounted for 70-80 per cent of the population of the Erivan Khanate. I am very glad that on my recommendation a fundamental scientific research on the Erivan khanate has been created and translated into several languages. These works are based on facts and realities.
Nagorno-Karabakh is ancient Azerbaijani land. Karabakh, Khankandi are Azerbaijani words. I have repeatedly said that if Khankandi had a historical name, the Armenians would have restored it. It was named "Stepanakert" after the head of a Bolshevik Armenian gang, Stepan Shaumyan. We all know that, but the world should also know that. People everywhere should know that this is our land and we have the right to live on it. International law, of course, supports our position. But the world community needs to know that the issue is not limited to international law. This is our historical land. In the 19th century the Armenians were resettled to Nagorno-Karabakh and some other places from Iran and Eastern Anatolia. We all know why they were resettled there. We need to broadly circulate this through books and prove to the whole world that this is our historic land.
I believe that the time has come to establish a substantial research on the period of independence. Next year we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of our independence. I think that if we create a solid scientific work by that time, it can be a very good present for our holiday.
Dear friends, members of the Academy and scientists! Let me salute you once again and congratulate you on the 70th anniversary of the Academy. I want to assure you that I will continue to keep focus on the development of the Academy and always support the solution of all of its problems. Thank you.
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Speakers at the meeting included president of ANAS, academician Akif Alizade, Nobel laureate, professor George Fitzgerald Smoot, and director of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, academician Viktor Matveyev.